Kelefa Sanneh, “The Rap Against Rockism,” The New York Times, October 31, 2004
I didn’t reblog David Drake highlighting a section from Sanneh’s inimitable essay because I’ve linked to it plenty of times before and I’m sure if I haven’t got you to read it by now I never will. But I did want to highlight these five words. It’s a dictum that should be entirely unexceptional, but too often goes unheeded. Sure, context matters, biography matters, culture matters. These are important things to consider in exploring any art. But if you’re trying to make those things matter more than what you’re hearing (or, in other realms, I suppose, what you’re seeing or reading) then you are doing it wrong.
Good critics are good listeners. Live by it.